What is Gmail?
A web-based e-mail system provided by Google, Gmail is a free, advertising-supported webmail, POP3, and IMAP service provided by Google. In the United Kingdom and Germany, it is officially called Google Mail.
Beta Testing Phase of Gmail
Google initially invited about 1,000 opinion leaders and then allowed them to invite their friends, and family members to become beta testers, with trials beginning on 21 March 2004. Active users from the Blogger.com community were offered the chance to participate in the beta-testing on 20 April and later, Gmail members occasionally received "invites" which they could extend to their friends. One round of invitations was sent out on 1 May and another three invitations were given to all active members on 1 June. By mid-June, the number of invitations had increased, with many users receiving between three and five daily. When Gmail increased the supply of invitations, the buying and selling market for Gmail invites collapsed.
On 2 February 2005 the invitation interface was changed to make it easier to give invitations by simply entering an e-mail address. At approximately 3:00 UTC on 3 February 2005 some Gmail users were awarded 50 invitations and later 100 invitations, suggesting that Gmail would soon go public.
Attending a Google Mini webinar or using Google Mobile would also yield a Gmail invitation.
During the initial months of the initial beta phase, Gmail's well-publicized feature set and the exclusive nature of the accounts caused the aftermarket price of Gmail invitations to skyrocket. According to PC World magazine, Gmail invitations were selling on eBay for as much as US$150, with some specific accounts being sold for several thousand dollars. After a new round of invitations in early June, the price for invitations fell down to between US$2–$5. Several philanthropic Gmail users have utilized services such as the now defunct GmailSwap to donate invitations to people who want them. On 28 June 2004, Google amended its policy to forbid the selling of registered accounts.
Gmail officially exited beta status on 7 July 2009.
History of Gmail
Gmail was a project started by Google developer Paul Buchheit several years before it was announced to the public. Initially the software was available only internally as an email client for Google employees.
Gmail, known as Google Mail in Germany, was made available to the public by Google on 1 April 2004, after extensive rumors of its existence during testing.
Owing to the April Fool's Day release, the company's press release aroused skepticism in the technology world, especially since Google had been known to make April Fool's jokes in the past, such as PigeonRank. However, they explained that their real joke had been a press release saying that they would take offshoring to the extreme by putting employees in a "Google Copernicus Center" on the Moon. Jonathan Rosenberg, Google's vice-president of products, was quoted by BBC News as saying, "We are very serious about Gmail.
In March 2004, Google said that Gmail would probably be released publicly after six months of testing, which would have placed their launch in September 2004.
Speculation regarding the release date followed a The New York Times indication that they had "credible sources" saying "Gmail will be released publicly by the end of the year 2005."
Until July 2009 however, the site remained in beta development stage.
The number of invitations existing account holders can send has been varied, presumably to control the usage and growth of the system.
The use of the invitation/text message system helped prevent spammers from registering numerous accounts for purposes of spamming and ensured that any account used illegally would have the invitation e-mail address or phone number to trace a user back to.
In January 2005, Security experts discovered a critical flaw in the handling of Gmail messages that would allow hackers to...
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